EEOC Is Moving On; Fast Food and a Dicey Neighborhood Await

Some at the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission fail to see the upside of moving from downtown Washington to Northeast. The new headquarters' neighbors will include
Some at the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission fail to see the upside of moving from downtown Washington to Northeast. The new headquarters' neighbors will include "one of the largest open-air drug markets in the region." (By Kevin Clark -- The Washington Post)
By Al Kamen
Friday, April 27, 2007

The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission is in an uproar over a decision by Chair Naomi C. Earp to move its 500-employee headquarters from fine offices in downtown to a "developing" -- but not quite arrived -- area in desolate Northeast near the old Woodie's warehouse on New York Avenue.

At a hostile meeting yesterday to quell a growing rebellion, Earp told several hundred employees -- and others viewing on closed-circuit television -- that "the determining factor is price" in her decision and that employees "should not overreact to concerns about safety."

The agency has been at 18th and L streets NW since then-Chairman Clarence Thomas blocked Reagan administration efforts in 1989 to ship it to the suburbs. The downtown location also houses the Washington field office, which is where people go to file discrimination complaints.

But the current landlord didn't renew the lease, and Earp said she did not want to "pick a fight with" the General Services Administration over the location. So the employees -- mostly civil rights lawyers -- are out by July 2008.

Some employees surveyed the new neighborhood. They found, according to an e-mail Monday about their field trip, that across from the proposed headquarters there's a seven-acre empty lot with "lots of garbage, empty wine and liquor bottles, broken glass, and condoms ringing the perimeter of the (chain link) fence." The nearest business is a "dilapidated liquor store two blocks away."

There are also warehouses in the area and self-storage buildings and, across from the employee parking lot, another big vacant lot. There are a few small dilapidated buildings and a building under construction, the surveyors reported.

For lunch, instead of Luigi's, the Palm or several excellent Asian bistros near the current headquarters, there'll be only a McDonald's 3 1/2 blocks away and a Wendy's a block beyond that. For a change of pace, there's the upscale Chez Roi, also known as Roy Rogers, just four blocks away.

Some employees are disabled, opponents of the move note, and on dark winter evenings they would be especially vulnerable to criminals. The McDonald's parking lot, next door to the city's largest methadone clinic, was named in 2002 "as being one of the largest open-air drug markets in the region." "It is unclear whether this has improved," the employees said.

Still, the area is clearly changing. And the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives headquarters is nearby, and those employees don't seem to be worried about crime.

"Give me a handgun and a bulletproof vest and an ATF windbreaker, and I wouldn't worry either," an unhappy EEOC official told us.

Wolfowitz the 'Visionary'

George Washington University law professor Lewis D. Solomon, with exquisite timing, has his latest book coming in June, entitled: " Paul D. Wolfowitz: Visionary Intellectual, Policymaker, and Strategist."

It's the "first full-length biography of Wolfowitz," says the blurb from the publisher, Praeger, going on to say that the book "traces the road to Baghdad based on Wolfowitz's practical, but idealistic worldview." Those who demand an end to the Iraq war will be gratified by Chapter 8: "The Aftermath of the War in Iraq and the Quest for Democracy."

The World Bank chapter talks of his efforts "to root out governmental corruption" and his insistence on "transparency." Solomon says the 200-plus-page book is "entirely derived from things in the public domain" and that he did not interview Wolfowitz. He has just finished a postscript to include the flap over Wolfowitz's giving raises to his girlfriend. (Might need to do a post-postscript.) It's a must-buy: only $49.95. Special discounts for World Bank Staff Association members.

Remember the Soviets?

The Russians are most unhappy with the proposed U.S. missile shield in Europe to protect the United States from Iranian missiles. The Russians somehow think this poses a threat to their nuclear deterrent. Of course, since the Iranians don't have nukes yet, it's probably predictable the Russians would wonder. Remember: We never wait for a mushroom cloud.

Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, in Oslo yesterday for a NATO meeting, told reporters that "the idea that somehow 10 interceptors and a few radars in eastern Europe are going to threaten the Soviet strategic deterrent is purely ludicrous."

She said the administration wants to talk to Moscow based on a "realistic" view, rather than "one that is grounded somehow in the 1980s."

The "Soviet strategic deterrent"? Who's grounded in the 1980s?

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